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- To: SHRAGE at WHARTON-10
- From: Kent M. Pitman <KMP at MIT-MC>
- Date: Sat ,7 Feb 81 05:24:00 EDT
- Cc: LISP-FORUM at MIT-MC
I think that discussion of standardization of Lisp at this time would be
a waste of time.
* Mistakes will always be made in language design. The worst thing you can
do is to tie yourself to your mistakes by adopting a standard for something
you didn't even mean to have done.
* Things may not always go the way we like. I didn't like &keywords going in,
but that's life. I'm sure there were those who still mourn the introduction
of hunks into Maclisp. That's the way things go. Things may go down the
wrong path, but I would prefer to see that happen than to have us stand our
ground thinking we have ``the way'' when we know darned well we do not.
Some time maybe 5 or 10 years from now, maybe more, when we have some
perspective on the language if it still exists, then perhaps we can look
back and decide on a standard. I don't think we're at the stage where we
have the wisdom to make a useful standard.
* While it is regretable that some users find that certain Lisp changes break
their code, they must remember that they always have the option of freezing
an old copy of Lisp and refusing to use the newer versions.
Users of Fortran 2, Fortran 3, etc. did this sort of thing. Major changes
occurred in the language between these versions and code that ran in one
didn't always run in the other. So Maclisp 1914 and Maclisp 1997 share this
same feature. The difference is perhaps that the evolution is faster, but
there is still nothing stopping anyone from simply continuing to use Maclisp
1914 until hell freezes over if he doesn't want to accept the supposed
benefits of the newer releases.
* Besides, computer standards don't really accomplish that much anyway.
They tend to try to be weak enough that all dialects can hope to conform.
Since the dialects that try to conform are basically incompatible anyway,
the standard serves litttle value. It may tell you when you exit the bounds
of Lisp and enter that of Algol, but it won't tell you that a program written
for one Lisp dialect will run in another.